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Dressel turns to martial arts book to restore calm

American Caeleb Dressel said Monday that he has been channelling his inner Bruce Lee to keep himself focused as he chases history at the swimming world championships.

The 22-year-old, who captured seven gold medals in 2017 to match the achievement of countryman Michael Phelps 10 years earlier, credited a book on martial arts for restoring his inner calm before winning the 50 metres butterfly title.

“I woke up with a heart rate of 150 — I don’t know why, maybe a bad dream or something,” said Dressel after bagging his second gold medal of the week in South Korea.

“I thought ‘goodness gracious!’ so I went for a couple of walks, read a book. I didn’t have anything this morning so I had nine hours of literally hanging around.”

Dressel revealed that he turns to a book inspired by Bruce Lee called “Zen in the Martial Arts” — which teaches how the daily application of Zen principles can improve physical powers and mental discipline — to bring him peace.

“I’ve read it three times,” he said after winning the 50m fly in a championship record of 22.25 seconds.

“I read it before the worlds in 2017 — it’s amazing.

“It was kind of a weird day,” added Dressel. “I didn’t have anything this morning so I got to sleep in. The waiting game can be tricky. I’m not a car geek but I watched some car videos, tried to stay busy.”

Dressel could potentially surpass his astonishing seven-title haul from Budapest this week but refuses to make any medal predictions.

“I’m not here to count medals,” he insisted. “That’s not what I do. I love the sport, it brings a lot of obstacles that are hard to overcome. You can’t reach perfection unless you reach zero seconds — it’s just the constant chase for perfection.”

Dressel believes he is a stronger swimmer than the one who took the sport by storm in 2017.

“I’m in a better place than two years ago,” he said. “I just tried to find a fine line between muscling in and staying relaxed.

“Just trying to get better each race. If I try to be fast then I’m no good so it’s better just to shut everything off and let instinct take over.”

Dressel, set to take off on a cruise with his swimming buddies after the world championships, added: “It never gets old, standing on the podium.”


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